Best of 2014 – Makeup for Eyes w/ Too Faced, Ardency Inn, Charlotte Tilbury, Butter London, NARS, Hourglass, Urban Decay & Milani

Continuing on with The Best of 2014, today I am going to focus solely on Eye Makeup so as to not end up with a 40 page post. I’m not necessarily focusing on specific shades, but if there is a shade that I always gravitate towards, I will note it. Though for some tasks I usually grab the same product over and over again, some I tend to switch up a lot – like eye shadow. Given that, any eye shadow mentions may not have been worn a ton, but the formula or the color really struck my fancy in 2014. Let’s get into it and reveal The Best of 2014 – Eye Makeup! J

I don’t know about you, but my eye shadow will crease like no other without a good base. I’ve been using the NARS Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base for ages, but I never mention it. It’s about time it sees some love! JI really don’t know what I would do without the NARS Primer because everything else that I have tried still ends in creasing shadows. So definitely a huge fan of the NARS Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Primer!

My brows are something I pretty much never neglect when doing my makeup because my natural brows are so faint. For quite some time, my stand by brow pencil was the Tarte Architect Brow Pencil, but it’s recently been usurped! It’s a really great brow pencil and the replacement is quite similar, but the color is just a smidge better and the pencil glides on just a tad smoother and easier. So what is this new wonder pencil? It’s the Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil in Blonde. It’s just the perfect color for my brows, and it is so quick and easy to fill them in. I also looked in to the price per ounce, and it actually costs less than the Tarte version when you look at the value for money! Nice to know because it is a pricey brow pencil, but it has a ton of product hidden inside. Sorry Tarte, but Hourglass’ Arch Brow Pencil has beaten you in both formula, color and value this year!
My absolute favorite standout eye product of the year comes from Charlotte Tilbury. I really have no words. That’s good because the Colour Chameleon Colour Morphing Eye Shadow Pencil does not come with a light price tag. But in my eyes, it is worth every cent! J The shade Dark Pearl is absolutely to die for. It blends to the perfect wash of color over the lids, or can be deepened up a bit more if you want a more dramatic effect. It is the quickest, easiest way to look pulled together when you are anything but! So perfect for a lazy or rushed day. These pencils just blend amazingly, last really well and I really cannot describe the color. It is absolutely perfect. Definitely give the Charlotte Tilbury Eye Shadow Pencils, especially Dark Pearl, a look if you haven’t already – the pictures cannot do it justice!
Dark Pearl swatched (left) & blended (right)
Next up for eyes are two shades from the Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette (the original one). I’m actually not the biggest fan of this palette by itself, but I think like most people, I find it quite useful when paired with other shadows. Basically the only two shades that I find myself using are the not-quite-matte highlight called Venus(only available in this palette I believe) and the darkest of the browns, which is called Faint. Definitely used those two shades a fair amount this year…though I doubt you can tell from looking at the palette! I wouldn’t race out to buy the Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette, but Venus and Faint stole my heart this year.
Venus (heavily swatched) & Faint
A new entrance into the eye shadow game…well, a new formulation of it anyway…are Milani’s Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadows. They have a ton of beautiful, affordable shades, but only one has been used repeatedly by me so far. That would be the shade Bella Cappuccino, which is a pretty basic warm medium brown. Rather boring, but it’s a great transition or crease color. Bella Cappuccino is a winner to these eyes! J
Bella Cappuccino
The winner for most unique color selection in eye shadow this year has got to go to Ardency Innand their Modster Manuka Honey Enriched Pigments. I have more shades than I care to admit and they are all gorgeous! Colors aside, they are very pigmented, easily blended, so soft and almost creamy. They’re truly beautiful shadows. Again, not cheap, but worth the splurge. The shades that I probably find most unusual are Hell, Heaven and Sunday. Love those names too! JPeacock is also beautiful, but there are a number of similar colors out there from other brands. So yea. Love the Ardency Inn Modster Manuka Honey Enriched Pigments.
Clockwise from Left: Heaven, Sunday, Hell & Peacock
Sunday, Heaven, Hell & Peacock – The swatches do not do them justice!
I feel that I need to include a favorite palette of the year too, though I feel like I have actually been gravitating towards shadow pencils and single shadows in 2014. However, if there is any palette that stands out, it is hands down the Chocolate Bar Palette from Too Faced. Yup. I drank the Kool-Aid too! This palette is just everything you could ask for and more. It’s filled with beautiful neutrals in a variety of finishes. It works for Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring equally well. It smells like chocolate, which would actually be the only thing I don’t like about it and it looks like a stinkin’ chocolate bar. How cute is that?! J The shadows themselves are wonderfully soft and blendable. There’s a bit of fallout with some shades, but nothing unbearable that can’t be remedied by a tap of the brush. The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette is by far the most perfect neutral palette I have seen in a long time, if not ever!
Ok. Eye Liner. I found what I would say is the best pencil liner for tightlining without transferring this year. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s by far the best I’ve found. It is, of all things, from Butter London. It is called the WINK Eye Pencil and comes in quite a few interesting and unusual shades, as well as the old standbys. I have been addicted to the shade Union Jack Black. It’s not the blackest of blacks, but it’s definitely a good solid black. I use it pretty much every day to tightline my upper lash line and it travels very little on to my lower water line, which I greatly appreciate. When used more traditionally on the lid or lower lashline, it doesn’t tug, can easily be smudged, but then stays put after waiting about a minute. Basically it’s like any other gel-pencil liner out there, but it transfers a bit less on my eyes. You cannot pry Butter London’s WINK Eye Pencil out of my grubby little hands – ever! J
Finally, we have a reoccurrence from last year’s favorites. I had to include it because it is practically the only mascara I can bear to use anymore! It is…drumroll please…Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara. Seriously. It’s amazing. I didn’t even remember that I had tried this mascara last year (though I did review it here), but apparently it’s been going one year strong…well, the formula not the same tube. I have pretty decent lashes in terms of length and they’re ok on volume, but I feel like this would make even non-existent lashes look incredible. It holds a curl, doesn’t smudge, comes off without tugging and adds serious length and volume with ease. My mom actually asks me if I’m wearing false lashes from time to time when I’m wearing this mascara. That’s impressive. I love the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara so much that I don’t know what I will do if they ever stop making it!
Whew! Ok. We’re done with the eyes. That was a workout! J Assuming you’re still with me, thank you for checking out my Best of 2014 – Eye Makeup! There’s only one more Annual Favorites post to go. I know. I’m terrible at editing things down. JI hope you have enjoyed these picks and I hope you’re looking forward to the final installment. It is quite possibly the most exciting…at least to me – Lips & Tips! JGet excited because I am! Until then, thanks for sticking around and if you’re hankering for more, check out my prior posts linked below.

For more Best of Picks, check out these posts:

Best of 2014 – Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care

Best of 2014 – Face Makeup & Tools

Continuing on with the avalanche of annual favorites, today we have the Best in Face Makeup & Tools. Kind of a strange grouping but trust me, it works. J Since the Tools are pretty much all used with Face Makeup, it actually makes sense. So, now that we know what we’re waffling on about, let’s actually do it! J

Probably the best product in the face makeup category that I have tried in 2014 comes from IT Cosmetics and it is the Bye Bye Redness. I guess you’d call it a color-correcting concealer because it really shines for covering up redness, but it can really cover up any kind of imperfection with ease. It’s meant to be used under foundation since it is only available in one shade, but because my skin tone is pretty similar, I often wear it over foundation as well. I have to a bit careful with it because it is quite thick and can emphasize pores, but I find if it’s used sparingly in targeted areas it doesn’t become much of a problem. Since this past year has been filled with red, angriness on my face, the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness has been a life saver (you can read more about it here)!

I’m going to switch things up a bit and move on to a tool! Not only that, it’s a new entrant into the brush realm. I’m talking about Flower Beauty’s new Lip Brush! I don’t actually use it for lipstick, but for concealer (usually the Bye Bye Redness). It’s a nice, dense small flat brush that works perfectly for covering up any pesky trouble spots. I’m torn about the handle because it is a rather cheap feeling plastic, but that also means it’s quite lightweight. Plus I really love the shape of the handle. It looks really gorgeous and it’s affordable as well! J Well done with the Lip Brush, Flower Beauty!

Another concealing tool that I have absolutely loved this year is simply called the Concealer Brush from ELF. This brush is ideal for blending concealer under the eyes. The size and shape is perfect for that area. The bristles are soft and splay out just enough to seamlessly blend without wiping away product. It’s genius – and it’s even more affordable than the Flower Brush. Run, don’t walk to grab the ELF Concealer Brush!

My last tool entry for the year is one that I use for pretty much anything and everything. I’ve used it for blending eye shadow, setting powder, applying both liquid and powder concealers, wiping away fall out. You name it, this brush can do it! It is the Setting Brush from Real Techniques. Again, an affordable brand too! JThis brush is a real powerhouse and is a must-have for anyone.

Getting back to face favorites, I have a few blushes to share. I tend to swap out blush rather frequently, but these formulas definitely deserve a mention. The first set of blushes I fell in love with over the Summer and they are the All-In-One Blushers from The Body Shop. My favorite shade is probably Guavabecause it’s just a nice, bright, pigmented matte pinky-coral. It’s a beautiful color and the formula meshes nicely with the skin. It also wears well and it definitely deserves more attention!

Next, there are the much-hyped Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes. These blushes have the most incredible silky smooth texture and on the skin, they just make the healthiest looking glow. There’s no glitter or shimmer, just luminous goodness. I really love Ethereal Glow for a blush topper that gives that “kissed by an angel” effect (you can read more of my thoughts here). I also love Mood Exposure, which is a surprisingly beautiful neutral plum that works with any look. I have it in the Blush Palette, which you can read more about here. The Ambient Lighting Blushes get a lot of hype, but it’s well deserved because they truly are beautiful.

A perennial blush favorite that needs inclusion this year are the NARS Blushes. Everyone raves about them and they definitely deserve it. The powders are soft and blendable, nicely pigmented and they wear well. In the Summer I could not put down the shade Torrid, which is a nice shimmering peach-leaning pink. Then in the Fall, Outlaw was never far from my reach. It’s a gorgeous almost duo-chrome shade of berry-plum laced with a golden sheen. It looks a bit scary swatched, but it is absolutely stunning on the cheeks! A common favorite among beauty lovers, the NARS Blushesdefinitely found a permanent place in my heart in 2014.

Finally I have my last face favorite. I’m not a big highlighter person, but this year I may have been converted…at least a little bit. JThe Cover FX Illuminator in Moonlight is just absolutely stunning! Depending on how it’s applied, it can look incredibly natural, or it can be built up for a more intense glow. It’s not glittery or sparkly, just a beautiful natural looking highlight. If you’re a bit frightened by highlighters, or just want one with a buildable natural finish, definitely check out the Cover FX Illuminator in Moonlight.

So that does it for my Face Makeup & Tools Favorites of 2014. See, they actually do make sense together! As with the last installment, my prior annual picks will be linked below as well as the other posts for this year. I hope you are enjoying them and I hope you have the strength to return for the next installment in a few days! J

October Favorites – Acure, Hourglass, Milani, Butter London, Sibu Beauty, Josie Maran, Urban Decay & EcoTools

Seriously can’t believe it’s already November. I can’t say that October flew past, but seriously, November? That’s nearly Christmas!!! How?! Anyway, since another month has passed, it’s time for yet another Favorites post. I’ve had an interesting month skin-wise, which I may go into more in a separate post depending on how it progresses. Basically, I decided to ditch all of the prescription products I’ve been using for years because I thought they might actually be making things worse. Still kind of on the fence about whether that smart or not. Anyway, because of that I have a good amount of skin care favorites, but fear not! There’s still some makeup as well! Let’s dive right in, shall we? J

Since I mentioned skin care, I’ll start there. For washing my face, I have gotten back into using a Konjac Sponge. It’s basically just a reusable vegetable fiber sponge that softens with water. Using your cleanser, you massage it over your face for gentle exfoliation. It leaves my skin softer and less flaky without irritating it. Fantastic stuff! JRight now I’m using the EcoTools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge – Deep Cleansing. I had tried a Dew Puff version before and liked it, but I hung it on my sink faucet, as you’re supposed to, but it crept toward the nasty sink bowl where water would splash onto it every time I washed my hands. I like the string idea, but I need to get a hook or something to keep it away from the actual sink bowl. Anyway, the EcoTools version doesn’t have a string so you have to rest in on something. I’m not a huge fan of that either, but the sponge is so thick and shaped in a way that I really only find myself using one side. I just rest the unused side in a little dish near the sink and, though it doessit in a small bit of standing water – gross! – I don’t feel like bacteria collects too quickly on the side I use. I have yet to find my ideal setup for storing the wet sponge, but I have definitely enjoyed using a Konjac Sponge this month.

The past few months I have been trying out using toners. I never used to use toners because it just seemed like an extra and ineffective step. Then I discovered that some come in spray bottles and I was sold! JI’m still not sure they do much, but I really do like the Acure Balancing Rose + Red Tea Facial Toner. It has a really nice, even, fine mist and the bottle not only looks pretty, but is rather satisfying to hold. The ingredients are wonderful, organic and simple too – Organic Rooibos, Organic Calendula, Organic Chamomile, Organic Witch Hazel, Organic Bulgarian Rose Water & Organic Glycerin. It’s soothing and the Witch Hazel makes it good for acne-prone skin. I can’t say I’ve really noticed any difference – good or bad – that I can directly attribute to the Acure Facial Toner, but I just love the bottle and the mist so much that it’s a real pleasure to use!
Sticking with toners (sort of), I have something that’s more of a technique than something specific. I believe I first heard this mentioned in a video from makeupTIA on YouTube – check out her videos here because she’s just so soothing and relaxing. I feel like I’m watching Opera while in a spa. J She also has been switching to a lot of “green” products lately and many of them are cruelty free! Anyway, she recommended adding a toner to facial oil and then applying the combination to your face for better absorption. I’ve been trying that with the Sibu Beauty Clarifying Toner and the Josie Maran Agran Oiland it really does work! Usually the regular Argan Oil from Josie Maran leaves me a little bit greasy, but when mixed with the toner, it absorbs like a charm – no grease whatsoever! Not even by the time I wake up in the morning! It’s also a nice way to add a toner to your routine without really adding any time. I chose the Sibu Toner because the mister bottle was horrible, but I like the supposed benefits and the Argan Oil because I have a bottle that I just never reach for, but don’t want to waste it. Together they instantly soak into my skin and leave my face hydrated without the grease! J If you like using a facial oil – or are scared to – but feel like it either leaves you greasy or takes too long to absorb, definitely trying mixing it with a toner. Life changing I tell you. J

Moving on to makeup favorites, I’ve rediscovered my Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation. I reviewed it shortly after it was released hereif you’re looking for a more detailed review. Not sure why I stopped using it for a while, but I did. This month as my skin has looked a bit better, I found myself reaching for it frequently. The coverage is good – buildable light to medium – and it doesn’t turn me into a grease-ball by the end of the day. It also stays put! I don’t really have a whole lot more to say about it. It’s just a nice foundation!

For blush, I’ve been absolutely addicted to the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette! It is so gorgeous! I recently reviewed it here if you’d like more information and swatches. Every color is incredibly wearable – at least for my skin tone – and I really love the formula. Initially I gravitated towards “Mood Exposure,” which is a gorgeous neutral plum – not a shade I’d typically seek out, but definitely try it because it’s stunning! Soon I started using “Luminous Flush,” which is a nice kind of neutral rose. Also stunning and so wearable! And though I’ve worn “Incandescent Electra” the least, it also a beautiful, very wearable everyday kind of blush. The palette is pricey, but for three great and really wearable blushes, it’s actually a great value.

My eye shadow staple has definitely been “Cappuccino” from Milani’s new Bella Eyes Collection. There’s nothing terribly exciting about it, but it’s a fantastic transition/blending shade. I’m no master blender, but I just love this shade for deepening up the crease a tiny bit with minimal shadows, blending out darker shades and for the lower lash line. It’s really nice and affordable as well!

Now for the most exciting makeup – to me anyway! J My favorite lipsticks this month have been hands down the new Butter London Moisture Matte Lipsticks – again! I absolutely love them! I have two shades and I really don’t know which would be my favorite. There’s “Ruby Murray” which is a deep berry shade and then “Loved Up” which is more of a deep raspberry shade. They sound similar and they actually are pretty close, but Loved Up looks more pink, where Ruby Murray is more of a classic deep berry. The finish of these ismatte, but it doesn’t look sickly, patchy or pasty as some mattes do. There’s still some life to them somehow. The formula of these is also fantastic! I typically hate matte lipstick, but these are socomfortable. They’re not as creamy as most cream formulas, but they aren’t at all drying. They last for ages and stay where you put them! Butter London has nailed the formula with their Moisture Matte Lipsticks!

Finally, I feel like I need to add just one non-beauty related favorite. For the past few weeks, I have finally become addicted to Instagram! I know. Late on the bandwagon. I’ve had an account for ages, but rarely post anything. For some reason I’ve just been obsessed with it this month! I’ve been challenging myself to post at least one picture a day, which has been fun and often harder than I expected! Don’t know how long my obsession will last, but for now I’ve been glued to it. J If you’re on Instagram and would like to follow me, I’m @makeupguineapig.
I think that’s going to do it for my October Favorites! I could add a few more items, but this is already quite long – thanks if you’re still reading! I guess it’s been a good month for favorites. And now I think we’re officially entering the Holiday Season!!! Agh! Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close!!! Let me know what you’ve been loving this month, or if you have any Holiday themed requests. No promises, but I will see what I can do if there’s something specific you’d like to see. As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll come back for more! J

Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Blush Palette – Holiday Greatness!!!

Ah, Hourglass. Why must you make such drool-worthy products? The packaging is always stunning, the quality of the products divine, and the price tag…well, more than I’d like to spend. Some of you may remember last year’s highly coveted Ambient Lighting Powder Palette, which was such a hit that it made a permanent return a few months after it completely sold out. Well, this year’s insanely hot Holiday hit is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette! I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the finishing powders, but I grabbed the blush in Ethereal Glow when it came out (see my review here) and fell in love. Obviously, I had to grab the Blush Palette! To sweeten the pot even further, one of the shades is Mood Exposure, which I have been debating for quite some time now. Three blushes in a gorgeous palette for just a smidge more than a single blush? Yes, please!!! J

As I said above, I absolutely adored the Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow, but after a month or two of using it frequently, I decided I prefer it as a glowing highlight on top of other blushes. That particular shade is not terribly deep, but it really does create such a delightful glow on the skin. It’s absolutely divine as a cheek highlighter, but just ok as an actual blush due to the light hue. Given that, I have wanted to try another shade, but didn’t really want to shell out another $35 for yet another single blush. Hourglass must have known about my dilemma and decided to make all of our Holiday wishes come true with three gorgeous shades of Ambient Lighting Blushes all in one stunningly beautiful palette!

The Ambient Lighting BlushPalette, much like last year’s Ambient Lighting Powder Palette, comes in a sleek and shiny mirrored gold case (that attracts fingerprints like no other!). It just feels luxurious. Who cares what’s in it! JActually I do care, but seriously, Hourglass has the elegant packaging down pat. Open the palette up and you will find a mirror that spans the length of the compact – very handy – and three shades of blush all lined up in a neat little row. There is a gorgeous rosy shade called Luminous Flush (permanent color), a lovely peachy shade called Incandescent Electra (only available in this palette!), and the lovely neutral dusty plum that is Mood Exposure (also permanent). What more could you really need?!? All of these shades have good color payoff and the texture and finish is just stunning.
In case you’re unfamiliar with these blushes, let’s talk a bit about the formula itself. Hourglass has mixed their wildly popular Ambient Lighting Powders, which are intended to mimic a variety of lighting scenarios to blur and perfect the skin, with beautiful blush pigments for a natural, healthy flushing glow. Each blush has a corresponding powder intended to mimic such lighting conditions as mood, dim, and radiant to name a few. These same light-mimicking powders are marbled among the blush pigments for the perfect finish every time. The texture is incredibly soft and silky. They manage to seamlessly meld with the skin for a healthy, natural radiant flush. The Ambient Lighting Blushes are a truly unique formula that actually does create a lit-from-within quality.
Let’s get back to the Limited Edition Holiday Palette since it is the topic at hand! The colors are absolutely perfect. There is something for every occasion, which makes this palette an even bigger must have. There is a rosy shade called Luminous Flush that is described as “A champagne rose blush fused with Luminous Light to evoke a candlelit glimmer for day or night.” The peachy-pink shade in the center is called Incandescent Electra and is exclusive to this palette. It has subtle sprinkles of incredibly fine micro-shimmers when swatched, but they are not noticeable on the cheeks. Hourglass describes this shade as “A cool peach blush blended with Incandescent Light for a celestial glow.” Finally there is Mood Exposure, which is just a stunning neutral plummy shade that is described as “A soft plum blush fused with Mood Light to brighten the complexion.” All the blushes are well pigmented and create a nice glow. They are not terrible deep blush shades though, so they will probably show up mainly as a glowing highlight on skin tones deeper than a traditional medium. As I mentioned, the Incandescent Electra swatches with the tiniest bit of sparkle, but it doesn’t transfer to the cheeks. The rest are certainly not matte, but they don’t have a noticeable shimmer or glitter either. It’s a unique finish that really does just make you look naturally radiant!
The blushes in the Ambient Lighting Blush palette are a great size as well. The full size single blushes contain 0.15oz of product and retail for $35 a piece. In the Palette, each blush pan contains 0.116oz – not a drastic reduction in quantity. The blushes in the palette will definitely last a good long while, especially if you like to switch up your blush shades. So for a retail price of $58 for the 3-pan Blush Palette you receive a total of 0.348oz of product – more than twice that of a single blush! Not only is this a great way to try some of the Ambient Lighting Blushes, but it is definitely a fantastic value and the shade selection is ideal. It’s genius! J If you’re debating whether or not to get the Ambient Lighting Blush Palette, don’t wait and regret it once it sells out. These suckers are likely to go fast, so drop some heavy hints for Holiday gifts, or snap one up yourself because this is truly a work of art disguised as a beautiful blush palette!
The Ambient Lighting Blush Palette retails for $58/56£ and is available from Sephora, HourglassCosmetics.com, and SpaceNK in the UK.

February Favorites 2014 – First Aid Beauty, Ole Henricksen, Bite Beauty, Giovanni, Tarte, Hourglass, NYX & Urban Decay

Well, well, well. Another month has passed and it’s time for another Favorites post! I feel like I’ve been snowed in, or at least anticipating such an occurrence, all month. Hopefully the white stuff has finally given up and some warmer weather will soon be here because I am freezing! J I’m also looking forward to all the new spring products that have been released recently! And tank tops. Please warm up so I can wear tank tops. Oh how I love summer. J But back to dreary, snowy, nail-bittingly cold February and my Favorite products of the month. I feel like I have a lot, so let’s check out what they were! J

I’m going to start with my new morning face moisturizer. I loved my Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 50, but since it has been discontinued, I’ve been desperately searching for something to replace it. I’ve tried quite a few over the past few months, plus my skin has dried out a bit due to a new acne cream, but I think I finally found one that I really like! It’s from First Aid Beauty, which seems to be popping up in reviews everywhere lately, but I haven’t seen a mention of my favorite which is the 5-in-1 Face Cream SPF 30. It has a decent SPF, it’s hydrating without being greasy, it has a lovely texture that blends like a dream, it doesn’t break me out, and I really couldn’t be more impressed. It may not be my beloved Josie Maran, but the First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 Face Cream SPF 30 is a pretty damn fine second! J

Sticking with skincare, I found a daytime eye cream with SPF!!! I always find it troubling that eye creams never have SPF in them, though I can see why whenever I get just a dab of regular sunscreen near my eye. This one is from Ole Henricksenand I feel I need to point out that I haven’t been able to 100% confirm from the company that they are cruelty-free, but their website does state that they never engage in animal testing. Google searches seem to indicate the same. I’d like something more concrete, but I just went with it and tried the Total Truth Vitamin C Eye Cream SPF 15. Not only does it protect my delicate eye area from the harmful rays of the sun, it’s also a really nice eye cream! It’s thick, but blends in nicely – I use gentle patting motions to apply it. It actually seems to brighten under my eyes and makes my dark circles look a little less dark too! So, well done Ole Henricksen, although some confirmation on your animal testing policies would be fantastic.

I have also been loving my Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask for soothing and healing my dry, chapped winter lips! I recently reviewed it here, so I won’t go in to too much detail. Aside from tasting insanely delicious, although it kinda grosses me out to realize what that taste is disguising (lanolin), it feels really conditioning and protective on the lips. You put it on at night and it’s still there in the morning! Excellent stuff if you are ok with wool by-products (I know some are not)! It’s also a pain to get out of the tube, but it’s worth the effort for Bite Beauty’s Agave Lip Mask.
A hair favorite for the month is from Giovanni. It is their Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. As I mentioned a little while ago, the nasty white itchy flakies have been gracing my scalp recently. I love the other tea tree-based shampoos I’ve tried as well, but this one works even better! It uses Salicylic Acid to treat the dandruff, with Tea Tree and Oatmeal to soothe the scalp. Not a white flake in sight and it smells really nice! It has kind of a mildly fruity scent that seems a bit tropical to me. It’s not terribly strong, nor does it linger and it’s a nice change from the standard tea tree-eucalyptus-mint hybrid in many standard tea tree shampoos. The Giovanni Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo has been a scalp saver in February! J

Agh! This is already long! Hurrying on to makeup, I’ve been using the Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation pretty much daily. I reallylove this foundation! Again, I recently reviewed it here, so I won’t blab on about it. At the very end of the month, I tried using it with a Beauty Blender, and I finallyget the Beauty Blender hype! JThe two work fantastically together! I hope Tarte releases this widely soon so everyone can try it because the Colored Clay Liquid Foundation is suburb!
Another recently reviewed product that I have rarely been without is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow. I will say that this shade is very subtle, but it actually does make my cheeks glow! You can read more about the blush and see it swatched here. It’s not for everyone, and if you’re looking for a huge pop of color, check out another shade. But personally, I love the subtle glow that the Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow gives my cheeks.
The eyeliner I’ve reached for every day is the NYX Slide-On Eye Liner in Jet Black. Nothing fancy here, although it is a fantastic liner. I’ve mainly just been tight-lining my upper waterline with it, adding a bit of mascara and I’m out the door. It’s a wonderful, deep black that’s still really soft and creamy while remaining budge-proof. How it does all of that is beyond me, but it’s absolutely perfect for my recent purposes! J Love, love, love the NYX Slide-On Eye Liner in Jet Black!
Much to my own amazement, I’ve been reaching for eyeshadows from the Naked Basics Palette from Urban Decay this month. I’m amazed not because it’s a bad palette, but because I neveruse it! I find it most useful for crease colors and a brow highlight, but rarely do I only use this palette. For some reason though, it was pretty much all I reached for in February. So I guess I’m finally on the Naked Basics bandwagon! J

Last, but not least, I’ve been constantly reaching for the NYX Butter Lipstick in Fireball. I never would have thought I would like this shade, let alone be constantly reaching for it! But, as they say, never say never! J The lipstick itself is not really all that special. It’s a good lipstick, but nothing revolutionary. It’s comfortable and it wears well, but it’s the color that I’m constantly drawn to! I almost didn’t order it, but I kept seeing swatches of it online, and it looked kind of fun and different…for me anyway. It’s basically a bright orangey-coral. It’s not terribly opaque, which I think makes it more wearable. It’s a great way to tiptoe towards orange lips. J For whatever reason, I think it’s pretty and it seems to work well with the simple makeup I gravitated towards in February! Fireball, you were my Valentine! J

Finally, I’m finished! So many Favorites for such a short month! J If you stuck through me with this, thank you! You are a patient sole…or simply a beauty junkie that lives for Favorites posts as much as I do! J Let me know what you’ve been reaching for over and over again the last month because I’d love to know! Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again next month…well, hopefully sooner, but you know what I mean! JI hope you’ve had a fantastic February and may March be even better!!!

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush – Ethereal Glow

After trying and not really liking the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, you would think I would pass on trying out the Ambient Lighting Blush. Oh contrare my dear friends! JI snapped one up right away during the Sephora VIB pre-sale! I chose the shade Ethereal Glow because it seemed the most versatile to me. It’s described as a cool pink, and I would agree with that. It reminds me of Tarte’s Dollface, though I haven’t actually compared the two. Do I like the blush better than I did the powder? Keep reading to find out! J

First, I should tell you a bit about the blushes. They are basically blush pigments mixed with the same technology used for the Ambient Lighting Powders. The Powders are intended to mimic certain lighting conditions so your skin always appears to be in its best light…at least that’s the theory! J The blushes use this same “Photoluminescent Technology” to create a multi-dimensional glow that makes the skin radiate with the perfect flush. Each blush is handmade to perfectly balance the pigment with the powder, giving each blush a unique mixed appearance.

For each Ambient Lighting Powder there is a coordinating Ambient Lighting Blush. There are six shades that seem to range from ultra light peach to intense plum to vibrant coral. I chose the cool pink Ethereal Glow, which mixes the Ethereal Light Lighting Powder, which is supposed to give a moonlit glow, with a beautiful cool pink hue. I suppose that means its supposed to look like angels came down and kissed your cheeks, but can a blush really look that way?

Um, actually, YES! JThis blush makes my cheeks absolutely glow with the perfect light wash of color. It just looks so healthy and pretty on the skin. There is no glitter, no real shimmer, but there is a definite radiance added when the blush is applied. It’s not flat like a matte blush, but not glowy in the same manner as a shimmery blush. It looks much more “lit-from-within” than a typical shimmery blush. Unlike the initial Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light that I tried (check out my review here), this blush does help blur imperfections and pores as well! This blush is really beautiful and, though it’s expensive, I think it might actually be worth it. I should add that this particular shade will probably not be suitable for medium to deeper skin tones because it isquite light, but on lighter skin it is gorgeous! It even has me reconsidering the Ambient Lighting Powder – or at least thinking about giving the version in Ethereal Light another try (I completely forgot I had it)! J

The texture of this blush is much like that of the Ambient Lighting Powder. It is very soft and kicks up a fair bit of dust when a brush touches the powder. However, it never looks powdery on the skin. It is very smooth and blends like a dream. It is also quite pigmented, though the pigment is a light tone. Though not quite matte in appearance, it does not look shimmery or glittery in the pan or on the face. It just somehow creates, I hate to say it, an Ethereal Glow on the cheeks. It’s simply gorgeous and I wish I had even more shades to test out! J

The Ambient Lighting Blushes come in the same elegant mirrored compact as the Powders, but are a touch smaller and gold. The blush contains 0.15oz of product and retails for $35. Ouch! But wow! They should be available in Sephora stores around February 21st. I will add that I’m not thrilled with the way my specific blush looks – the pigment and powder are almost half and half in the pan so you really have to swirl them together, which kicks up a fair amount of powder and gets a lot of product on the brush. I’m learning to deal with it though. I’m finding that gently tapping the brush into the pigment and powder separately and then applying it is working well. No matter what I do, the end result looks beautiful, so I’m not complaining! JIf nothing more, definitely give these blushes a look when they are released in stores because they’re just so pretty!!! J

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